True Confessions of a Life by Design: It’s Not All Sunshine

by | Sep 18, 2020

nicoa dunne
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I have a confession to make to you guys. I’m not 100% happy during every moment of my life.

I’ve had a few clients over the years who see me and my life and say things like, “You’re always happy. You’ve got a great place to go home to, and it gives you so much peace. I can’t relate. You’re going to think what I’m doing is wrong, because you’ve never been in my position before.” Very common.

But do you want to know the truth? Well, I’ve been right where you are in some form or fashion. I promise! I’m just as neurotic and weird as everyone else! I don’t have everything figured out—sometimes, I feel like I don’t have anything figured out, but that doesn’t stop me. Yes, I work as a happiness coach, a transformational lifestyle coach and my goals center around helping others help themselves achieve happiness, but that does not mean that I’m always happy! Not. At. All.

I can remember several moments since I’ve been trying to build my own Life by Design where I felt true panic—absolute fear and terror. Seriously! I know that sounds extreme, but it’s true. I’m human. And so are you. And emotions have a way of creating quite the life journey.

I remember when I had just quit my job to pursue my Life by Design, and my husband and I were sitting on the porch. I was full of anxiety over where we were going to find a new source of income, then my husband asks, “Hey Nicoa, why don’t we join the University Club at NC State? It’s only about $1,000 a year.” I lost it.  I blew up on him, and he had no clue where my anger and frustration were coming from.

In that moment, I can remember worrying about how we were going to survive as a family, and here was my husband suggesting we put out an extra $1,000 on something we didn’t need. But where did that anxiety-turned-anger really come from? It all came from my own “What if?” state of mind. And emotions that I wasn’t consciously managing well, for sure.

I have clients come to me all the time, wondering, “What if I left my job to pursue my dream career, and it didn’t work out? What if I couldn’t pay my bills? What if I didn’t have money for food and clothes?”

And I say, “Well, what if?”

When I ask this, I always realize that the clients’ fear—the fear that I felt on the porch with my husband that day after quitting my job—is based in the unknown. It’s our natural human instinct to expect and prepare for the worst, and we do that by asking the question: What if?

How do we get out of that mindset, though after the initial reaction of fear? I had a client tell me the other day that she wanted to go on vacation, but she just didn’t have the time. I asked her, if she had the time off, what kind of vacation she would like to go on. She hadn’t even thought about it! She said she didn’t have the time to even dream about her vacation.

But that’s the first step!

Take a second to ask yourself these questions:

What do I want? How is what I’m doing getting me what I want? If I’m not getting what I want, am I willing to try something new?

For me, these questions first centered around my work life. I realized that one thing I wanted was to have an office in Wilmington. That led to the thought that, hey, I might like a job that allowed me to have an office anywhere! Believe it or not, these small ideas are what started me on my journey to my Life by Design. I just looked for one small thing I wished I could change—one thing I knew I wanted in my new Life by Design.

What’s that one thing for you right now? What’s the first step to your Life by Design?

Here’s the beauty to this: None of these things are permanent. Not even those scary big emotions! I promise. If you find your one thing for today, and that flip-flops around tomorrow, then fine! You’re not stuck with these little changes if you want to do something else later on. The goal here is to choose something! Move toward something. 

Notice the costs of NOT doing what you want. Recognize the stagnation of sitting still and saying “I wish” all of the time. What do you really want? And what would make you happier and more satisfied than where you are right now? 

I want you to see that no, I’m not happy all the time. That’s not my goal. I don’t just come home to complete peace and tranquility every day. Nobody does! But I have given myself the freedom to create my own Life by Design, and a lot of that happens with one small change. One small act. Add up all those small choices and start looking around you! Look, there it is, the life you craved! I know I see it around me all the time now and I am so grateful my fear didn’t shut me down, like I shut my husband down that day on the porch. I wish I had given myself permission to dream that day. I invite you to give yourself permission now!

What areas of your life are making you ask, “What if?” Give yourself permission to dream and identify  those areas in your life you want to shift and change, and ask yourself the questions I laid out above. Find your own Life by Design, and start living it. 

Life By Design. I Love Mine. You Can, Too!